Friday, February 15, 2008

Open Letter To Kanye West

Mr. West,

I am a filmmaker in production for a documentary called, Sweet Salone, which is about the growing music culture of Sierra Leone and Hip Hop’s growing dominance within it. I have had the pleasure of working with a large number of music artists from Sierra Leone, from Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars and Alonzo, to Kao Denero and Chosan in New York. My unique position as the filmmaker of Sweet Salone, obligates me to stand up for these artists and the country.

You won a Grammy award for your song Diamonds from Sierra Leone/Blood Diamonds, and still refuse to properly compensate or recognize Chosan for his assistance? Chosan is a native Sierra Leonean, a friend, and a tremendously giving soul. He has told me that he was shocked to hear his voice on the song. He helped you understand the country and its people, and never heard from you after the night you two worked together? No mutual agreements or contracts? He is still waiting to hear from you.

I am disappointed and confused to learn of your hypocrisy. My father is from Sierra Leone and I have many family members there. They are all traumatized by the recent war. I do not want to believe that you would intentionally and purposefully, exploit Africans while decrying exploitation in Africa.

Sierra Leone is a beautiful country with famously welcoming people. Have you ever been there? The film Blood Diamonds was very successful but was filmed in Mozambique and really only strengthened the country’s stigma and negative image.
I am grateful that there is increased awareness about the abuse of West Africa. But I can not help but to be frustrated and angered to see all this media content being generated with little or no positive effect on the country. That is why I made this film, to show Sierra Leone for its beauty, talent, and perseverance. Hip Hop comes from Africa. It is time for American artists and audiences to recognize that.

I urge you to contact Chosan and deal with him in an honest manner. It is never too late to correct a wrong. You found him easy enough when you requested his assistance. If you would like to see what is really going on in Sierra Leone now, then view Sweet Salone when it is released. I am sure you will learn something.

Sieh (Cya) Samura

Wun Deuce Media Productions


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